Stricter laws demand as child abuse image crimes in Scotland reach highest level in five years

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CAMPAIGNS called for tougher laws as the number of offenses relating to the possession, taking, manufacturing and distribution of child pornography in Scotland peaked in five years.

Over 3,000 child abuse image offenses have been recorded by Scottish police over the past five years.

And data shows that crimes related to possession of child pornography peaked at 660 in 2020/21, a 20% increase from 2018/19.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children fears the pandemic has created a “perfect storm” for grooming and online abuse and says an online safety bill needs to be beefed up so that it “decisively disrupts” the production and distribution of child pornography. on social networks.

The number of child sexual abuse crimes recorded by the Scottish Police reached 1,966 in 2020/21, almost 25% above the five-year average.

The force’s performance report notes that 434 children were identified and protected by agents tracking child molesters online between September and March, with 277 people arrested.

And offenses surrounding sexual messages to children have increased by 80% in the past five years.

Between April 2020 and March 2021, there were 685 indecent communication with a child offenses in Scotland – a record – an 80% increase from the same period of 2015 to 2016.

The NSPCC said social media is being used by groomers as a treadmill to produce and share images of child abuse on an industrial scale.

He added that the problem of young people having to share images of their own abuse has become “ubiquitous”.

The association urged UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries (above) to seize the opportunity to strengthen the online safety bill, so that it results in ‘decisive action’ that disrupts production and the dissemination of child pornography on social networks. He said children will continue to be exposed to an unprecedented scale of abuse unless the bill is significantly strengthened.

The online safety bill is due to be considered by lawmakers next week – but the NSPCC, which has campaigned for social media regulation, has come up with a five-point plan to strengthen it.

Their online safety experts said the bill currently does not address how offenders organize themselves on social media, effectively tackle abuse in private messages, and fail to keep senior executives responsible for the damage or does not give children a voice to balance the power of the industry.

And there are criticisms of the industry’s response to child abuse material.

A Facebook whistleblower told authorities in October that the company’s efforts to remove child pornography from the platform were “insufficient” and “underfunded.”

The allegations are contained in documents submitted to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) two weeks ago.

In a sworn statement to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which regulates the securities markets and protects investors, the unidentified individual said there was no solution to the contents illegal on Facebook because there were “no adequate assets dedicated to the problem.”

The whistleblower also said that Facebook does not know the full extent of the problem of child pornography because it “does not follow it”.

A constant question allegedly asked by senior executives was “What’s the return on investment?” ”

Facebook said in a statement, “We have zero tolerance for this heinous abuse of children and are using sophisticated technology to combat it.

“We have funded and helped create the tools used by the industry to investigate this terrible crime, save children and bring justice to the victims.”

He added that he has shared his anti-abuse technologies with other companies.

HeraldScotland:

NSPCC Director General Sir Peter Wanless (above) said: “The sheer number of offenses related to child sexual abuse images is fueled by the ease with which offenders can prepare children for through social media to produce and share images on an industrial scale.

“The UK government recognizes the problem and has created a historic opportunity with the Online Safety Bill. We admire Nadine Dorries’ stated intention that child protection is her number one goal.

“But our assessment is that the legislation needs to be strengthened in a clear and specific way if it is to fundamentally tackle the complex nature of online abuse and prevent children from suffering preventable harm.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “Our pioneering new laws will be the most comprehensive in the world to protect children online.

“Social media companies will have to crack down on child pornography and prevent young people from being treated or exposed to harmful material. If they don’t take action, they will face huge fines or have their sites blocked.”

Scottish Government Minister for Children Clare Haughey said: “The well-being and safety of children and young people in Scotland is paramount and we recognize that child abuse online is a growing problem.

“Although internet safety is a reserved matter, we continue to work closely with the UK government and Ofcom to develop proposals for stricter online safety measures to help protect children and young people in Scotland – including close liaison with the UK government on the upcoming online security bill. .

“We continue to work with the Scottish Police, Scottish Child Welfare Boards and third sector partners to engage the public and raise awareness of the dangers of online abuse. A new Scottish government national public awareness campaign is planned for the new year.

“In each of the past five years, core funding of £ 14million has gone to the Third Sector to strengthen early intervention and prevention efforts to better protect children and young people from abuse, including including sexual abuse. We have also recently published a revised version of the National Child Protection Guide.

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